The Parramatta Eels SG Ball side claimed the 2017 SG Ball Championships before going on to claim the 2017 Under 18 National Final.
Speaking at their recent District Representative night, Parramatta Eels SG Ball Head Coach Scott Jones said he was extremely proud of his young squad and the hard work they had done throughout the year.
In a first for the competition, Jones’ side claimed the 2016 Harold Matthews Championships and National Final last year, before going on to claim the two titles 12 months later.
“I am extremely proud of the boys. It is a compliment to the hard work they have done throughout the year. We set a goal at the beginning of the year and it was beautiful to see those boys achieve that,” Jones said.
“When you start the season out, you don’t think of those type of things,” Jones said of the record.
“To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even aware of the record the week of the National Final.”
“You don’t come into these things for those type of records, if they come as a by product of the hard work and dedication we put in, that’s a bonus, but the big focus was the development of the players and making sure we are developing the best young men possible to send up through Luke Burt’s ranks and then hopefully on to BA in the NRL.”
The core of Jones’ squad has stayed together over the past years, and despite their success, the Head Coach said it was easy to keep his players motivated.
“It’s pretty easy to get motivated. Every time the year rolls around, and it’s a new season, it’s a new challenge with some new faces in there,” Jones said.
“Obviously there has been some boys that have been that core group, but that’s the beauty of coaching. You get excited about each individual you get to work with and seeing them progress and grow as a young man and as a player. That’s the most pleasing thing.”
“We knew a lot of key players were accelerated up into the Under 20 system and that’s a huge hole to fill. We have great depth and great talents in our ranks but we knew that we needed to be clinical in the things we wanted to do,” Jones added.
“They are still young men, and they cant be perfect all the time, but my job is to try and get them to be perfect most of the time. We had to really work on our work ethic, our attitude, our resiliency and making sure we focused on those types of things to get the job done.”
During the night, Jones paid special credit to not only his players, but his entire team, from top to bottom.
“We play a team sport and I have always been a big believer that as a player and a coach, is that the input of every person, whether it be the one on one chats you have with them before or after games/training, whether it’s me, assistant coach, managers, trainers, support staff, it’s a team sport.” Jones said.
“Everyone puts in to get that final result and when we succeed on the field as we did, everyone gets a piece of that.”
However the Head Coach had special praise for a handful of the award winners on the night.
“Jesse Cronin, as a leader of the group, he was in our leadership group and one of the few 18 year olds we had in the squad. He was massive in the start of the year and was my captain two years ago and is a real leader of men and he was great and performed well on the field as well as off the field around training.” Jones said of the SG Ball Best & Fairest recipient.
“I gave the Coach’s Award to Vea Tapa’toutai. He was tremendous in the early parts of the season when our captain Kyle Schneider had a bit of a disrupted pre-season. Vea come on and really razzled them in the nine position.” He said of his Coach’s Award receipient.
“Credit to him and the kind of person he is, when it was time to take a step back and go back to rolling off the bench as an impact player, he took it in his stride, did it with a smile and played his best football for the team. That’s the reason we had so much success.”
And the Head Coach, who has recently signed on to coach the SG Ball side next season, was looking forward to the year ahead.
“We only had eight kids that were eighteen, so out of our squad of thirty, eight kids go up and the rest of the kids can stay. I am sure we will be in the same position as we were at the beginning of this year.” Jones said.
“I can see a lot of those 17 year olds growing up and being accelerated in the twenties, so I love that challenge, and whatever I get thrown next year, me and the staff will sit down and work our what is best for our team and the Club.”
“There was no hesitations wanting to get straight back into it. I love it, and lucky I have a great wife who supports me.” Jones added.
“She knows footy is my passion, and she was the one who encouraged me to do this at the start, and I am very thankful for that. There was no hesitation and I cant wait to get back on board.”